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The Antao family from Eastleigh were among the best of our family friends. We had many of those growing up. My brother Hippol's middle name is Floriano (Vicky's dad's name) and his Godfather was Gonzac Antao, Vicky's eldest brother. We lost touch, all you were always on my mind and in my prayers. Rest in Heavenly Peace Vicky.

Victoria “Vicky” P. (Antao) Lory, 72, of Montpelier, VT became a beloved ancestor on May 5, 2020. Her warmth touched many hearts and will be missed.

Victoria was born in Nairobi, Kenya to Jose Floriano and Luiza Maria Antao. After graduating from St. Teresa’s Girls’ School, Victoria worked at Catholic Relief Services (CRS) regional office in Nairobi. At age 21, she accepted a position at CRS headquarters located in the Empire State Building in New York City.

She embraced all the city had to offer, attending musicals, concerts and visiting museums. She traveled around New York State, visiting the Finger Lakes Region and Niagara Falls, enjoying their unique beauty.  She came to appreciate the seasons of the Northeast, especially fall foliage and the snow. 

She met and married James Lory in New York. They worked on humanitarian disaster relief projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Liberia. They moved back to the United States and lived in East Hardwick, VT where they raised their two daughters. Later the family moved to central Vermont, where Victoria became a home-owner and resided for the remainder of her life.

She loved the Vermont landscape and its biodiversity. For nearly 25 years, Victoria had a career with the State of Vermont as a Legal Secretary for the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and the Environmental Board/ Natural Resources Board, under the Agency of Natural Resources, where she proudly worked on ACT 250.

Victoria had a strong faith that helped her through life’s challenges, and for over 30 years was a parishioner at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Montpelier. 

She was a proud US Citizen and supported family members who immigrated to the United States. A world traveler, she spent time in over a dozen countries on four continents. She knew four languages: Konkani, Swahili, French and English. Early in life her family took annual trips from Nairobi to Mombasa along the Indian Ocean. The wildlife of eastern Africa inspired her to care about conservation. She worked tirelessly to give similar experiences to her children and expose them to the wonders of traveling, respecting the environment, and helping others.

Victoria’s humble kindness, consideration for marginalized people, and intrepid way of leading her life was an inspiration.  She was a force to be reckoned with when she witnessed or experienced injustice. She took a special interest in the history of Black America and Native America and cared deeply about human rights. She was proud of her children for their dedication to social justice.

Hard working and known for her self-sufficient and independent nature, Victoria had a creative DIY approach to life. She baked and decorated birthday cakes, stayed up all night to sew dresses and costumes for her daughters’ special occasions, and took on home fixit projects. She was generous hearted, smart, and regal, like her namesake.

Victoria led an active life, working out at the gym, taking walks, hiking, biking, and going on outings with her best friend, Martha. In her down time she liked listening to the radio, reading, following the news, learning about world cultures, watching travel shows, and watching late night talk shows.

Advanced progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia led her to be under the care of her daughters for the last part of her life. Victoria enjoyed the company and comfort of their animals. She continued to love family gatherings, nature watching, car rides, walks, and helped to cook meals, and tend the garden. 

Victoria was predeceased by her parents; her newborn son, Francis; and her elder brother, Gonzaga.  She is survived by her daughter, Sandra Lory and son-in-law, Zach Tonnissen of Orange, VT; daughter, Yvonne Lory of Barre, VT; sister, Veronica of London, England; brother, Sebastian of Hove, England; brother, Thomas of Maryland; former husband Jim of Barre, VT; and numerous in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nephews and other loved ones who were special to her.

Her family and friends will cherish the memory of her remarkable life, and of their time together. Her last few months of life were spent at Woodridge Nursing Home. Victoria’s family would like to thank the staff of Maple Grove, especially for their care after her stroke during the pandemic.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a celebration of life will be held at a later date. To stay informed about plans for a memorial, and to send condolences to the family, email

Contributions can be made in her name to:

The Good Food, Good Medicine Program of Barre, VT:

The Peace and Justice Center of Vermont in Burlington, VT at 60 Lake Street, Suite 1C, Burlington, VT 05401.

Or your local racial justice, immigrant rights, or indigenous sovereignty organization.

The family would like to thank Gene and the staff of Stephen C. Gregory and Son Cremation Service for all they have done to support our family during this time of loss.



Africa in crisis Aidan Hartley

Red roses are hardly a priority for people in a virus-wrecked global economy, and one day recently the world’s flower market pretty much collapsed. At the vast Aalsmeer auction in Holland, there were scented mountains of unsold roses, gerberas and tulips. Some last stems still find their way into bouquets across a world that has cancelled all gatherings except funerals. But in the coming months, cut flowers might become a sight as rare as bananas were for children in the Blitz.

This story is a disaster for Kenya, my home country, which was until last month a top flower exporter. While western states re-purpose their economies towards becoming vast hospitals, Africa is too poor to cope with the medical emergency, and virus deaths will probably not be the greatest challenge ahead. Even in a good year, multitudes go hungry, while respiratory diseases, diarrhea, Aids, malaria, tuberculosis and measles scythe down 3.5 million people. In Kenya, some wags have pointed out that police enforcing a dusk-to-dawn curfew have already killed more people than the virus has locally — but later, accurately calculating total deaths from Covid-19 in Africa will involve greater guesswork even than elsewhere, since mathematical modelling tends to get lost in the Congo’s rain forests or the shifting sands of Somalia. 

If the virus spares the young, Africa is better off than Europe. Our median age is less than 20; three quarters are under 35. Most ordinary folk are fit, slim, non-smoking and healthy. Few live beyond 60, since misrule has so impoverished many hospitals that they lack even aspirins. The local joke in Kenya is that we have more parliamentarians (350) than ICU beds (130). ‘Underlying health issues’ affect mainly the tiny urban class of richer, often politically connected folk, who pick up westerners’ bad habits. In other words, the pandemic’s main victims might be ageing politicians and their hangers--on, who find themselves unable to fly their private jets to Europe for treatment — a cull of sugar-fed, obese oligarchs.

Starkest of all will be Africa’s economic collapse, wiping out jobs for many of the continent’s 1.2 billion people. Tourism, vital to the conservation of wildlife, forests and monuments, has fallen apart. Mining, oil and gas are close behind. Exports of tea, coffee and cocoa are also being hit hard. Until recently Africa served as a giant nursery, raising migrants to supply cheap labour for rich countries. Every month these workers send money home to their families, and remittances are now the largest source of foreign exchange in many countries. As diaspora Africans fall out of work, these funds are evaporating. In the high-density slums, each breadwinner might feed ten mouths. Nairobi city governor Mike Sonko promised mass distributions of Hennessy cognac because ‘alcohol plays a major role in killing the coronavirus’ — but such clowning aside, slum-dwellers have no cash reserves, nor a welfare state to rescue them. As global supply chains collapse, it becomes horribly clear that out of 54 African states, only Zambia is a net food exporter. Many Africans routinely rely on food aid. For oil-dependent Nigeria’s nearly 200 million people, life is about to get tough.

Even before the pandemic, debt-laden Africa was gazing into an economic abyss deepened by spendthrift policies and crashing commodity prices. South Africa’s junk status is now at the optimistic end of the spectrum. ‘Sub-Saharan countries with no exception that I can think of have gorged on borrowing and balance sheets are maxed out,’ according to Kenya’s most prominent economic analyst, Aly-Khan Satchu. ‘It’s biblical.’ Without restructuring, central banks will default, especially on their vast loans from China, which has built so much sub-standard, bribe-soaked belt and road infrastructure. The recent mistreatment of black people in Guangzhou has horrified Africans, who know where the virus came from. China has flooded the continent with its citizens, who along the way have set out to poach and eat every African wild species imaginable — sea slugs, elephants, rhinos, big cats, aardvarks, tortoises, donkeys, pangolins. Naturally, Africa’s leaders have taken their begging bowls to the IMF and World Bank, asking for a mega-bailout. ‘This time hopefully those institutions will be more intelligent about how the money is spent, rather than just shoveling it out to leaders who all round trip it offshore,’ says Satchu.

Britain’s approach to this is upsetting. Boris’s government says ‘all our resources’ must focus on beating the virus. The FCO urges thousands of Brits to come home, fleeing the Commonwealth and foreign investments that until March were such a key part of post-Brexit policy. Masks and ventilators are the language of diplomacy now. Until this month the British Army had its largest overseas training operation near my house in Kenya, but due to fears of civil unrest the mission has been mothballed. There are more jihadi terrorists in Africa than anywhere else these days, and al Qaeda and Isis affiliates have exploited recent disarray to escalate violence and seize territory. As the UK moves gazillions in private debt to the government’s balance sheet and tax revenue disappears, one wonders how DfID’s aid budget of £14 billion can be justified. Since the same will go for other newly poor western donors, Africa will be left on its own.

Yet there is a silver lining. Some years ago, the Arab rulers of Sudan shut down the pipeline that traverses its territory towards the Red Sea, pumping crude oil production from its southern neighbour, South Sudan. When the embargo hit I predicted social collapse. Yet nothing changed, because South Sudan’s rulers had always stolen all the oil money. The ministers’ fat sons had to cut back on spare parts for their gold-plated Hummers, whereas most local people simply woke up in the morning to dig their fields and grow sorghum, manioc and vegetables. 

In the same way now, people across Africa will struggle by on the land, relying on extended family relationships. Unless there is a dramatic reordering of the system, some states will fail, swept away in urban uprisings and fresh civil conflicts. Surely it’s time to abolish or reform the edifice of international aid that has propped up this kleptocracy for decades — the racket run by UN agencies and leftist charities like Oxfam. Covid-19 is the Chernobyl moment for bad regimes and badly managed aid programmes in Africa. Pestilence heralds a time of change more dramatic perhaps than any since the colonial scramble for Africa. It’s the end of an epoch and an opportunity for ordinary Africans to build a better future for themselves.


Aidan Hartley is a writer, environmentalist and journalist born in Nairobi in 1965.


Old world Kenya of Christine Nicholls

The Kenyan World of Christine Nicholls

I have borrowed these delightful snippets from a blog by Christine Nicholls (and others). I have written to her and hope to have a chat online. I enjoyed them and I hope you might too.


The Sunday Post


John Rathbone: Storekeeper and Newspaper Pioneer

| Sep 12, 2019 |

Storekeeper and Newspaper Pioneer Few will remember the Dewdrop Inn at Rumuruti, but the newspaper the Sunday Post will ring many a bell. One man was responsible for both endeavours: John Sylvanus Rathbone. Clutching a map provided by the Land Office, in 1920 Rathbone walked from Thika in the direction of what became known as Nanyuki, excited by the prospect of developing a well-watered farm. The streams and rivers on the map, and its injunction preventing the structure of any wharves, landing stages or ferries, proved to be illusory. Instead, Rathbone opened the first duka in Nanyuki, calling it Township Stores. Rathbone was born in Sheffield on 25 Nov 1963 and was given the names John Silas. One of his first jobs was as a private tutor and elementary teacher in Sheffield, and there he met Emma Lucie Brenner, a language teacher born in Germany, but of Swiss nationality and a scion of the famous family for which the Brenner Pass is named. They married and soon had a son and a daughter. The daughter, born in 1906, seems to have provoked a breakdown because we find Emma Lucie in ‘South Yorkshire Lunatic Asylum’ that year. The child lived only three years. At the start of World War 1, Rathbone joined the army and fought in the German East Africa campaign. Of literary bent, he started a magazine for the troops called ‘Doing’.  He was assisted in this enterprise by fellow soldiers George Kinnear (later editor of the East African Standard), and Herbert ‘Pop’ Binks, who called his column ‘What Binks Thinks.’ Returning to England after the war, Rathbone decided...


Who remembers ‘Miranda’s Merrier Moments’ in the Sunday Post?  It was a gossip column, at one time written by ‘Mugs’ Muggeridge, a secretary working for Shell. She had a lively social life and so was well placed to write the column. The column concerned itself with naming those attending social events and describing their clothes. In the 1940s people wore long dresses, even for a drink in the evening. People wanted to be named in the column but the newspaper got into trouble sometimes and was sued for defamation of character. Mugs called the newspaper the Sunday Pest. For £10 a month Mugs lived in Torr’s Hotel in Delamere Avenue (now Kenyatta Avenue), almost new in 1930 when she arrived in Kenya. Nobody would use the hotel lift because a cheetah was kept in it. Delamere Avenue was then made of murram and was full of holes – people needed chains on their cars to get along it in the rainy season. They came to Torr’s for the nightly dances, where Micky Migdoll and his band played. The Claremont was another dance floor at the time. As for the New Stanley, it was a much staider hotel than Torr’s. Torr’s closed in 1958 when the building was taken over by the Ottoman Bank. Does anyone know what happened to Mugs? In 1987 she was she was eighty-eight years old and living in her flat in Muthaiga. And can anyone help with enquiries about Henry Murrell, of Motor Mart in Eldoret? He died in 1948. What sort of a man was he?...


When did Electricity Come to Nairobi?

 | Oct 23, 2017 |

When did Electricity Come to Nairobi? In order to supply electricity for lighting and power in the district of Nairobi, the Nairobi Electric Power and Lighting Company Limited, with a capital of £30,000, was founded in February 1906. Its originator was Clement HA Hirtzel (misspelt Hertzel in most sources), who had arrived in East Africa from South Africa in January 1904. Described as ‘a penniless counter-jumper from the Cape’ by McGregor-Ross, Hirtzel had actually been born in Exeter and had obtained engineering qualifications. He also had a motor car and motor cycle business in Nairobi, where he lived at Parklands, and he obtained a farm at Limuru. He was awarded an OBE and became a freeman of the city of Exeter, to which he later retired. In April 1904 Hirtzel obtained a concession for fifty years from the Governor, Sir Charles Eliot, to supply Nairobi with electricity. He signed a draft contract to do so in 1905, and set up a company named the Nairobi Power and Lighting Syndicate. Charles Udall was chief engineer and the managing director was RC Bayldon, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who later became chairman of Nairobi’s Chamber of Commerce. The general scheme was to generate electricity by means of water power, then running to waste, to supply Nairobi and the surrounding country. In November 1906 the company chose to use the first fall on the Ruiru River below the Fort Hall road, some 18-½ miles by road from Nairobi. A bungalow for the engineer was erected near the site of the works and the task of damming the river was undertaken....


The Donovan Maule Theatre


| Jun 19, 2017 |

The Donovan Maule Theatre Many of you will remember Nairobi’s Donovan Maule Theatre. My abiding memory is of us Kenya High School girls trying to persuade our headmistress, Miss Stott, to let us go to see Lock up Your Daughters there in 1960. She eventually relented. Who were the couple who founded the theatre? Donovan Maule was born in Brighton on 24 June 1899 and his wife Mollie was born in London on 24 June 1897. Both came from theatrical families and toured the country with their parents. They were married in 1920. Donovan Maule joined the army in World War II and ended his army career in Egypt as director of drama, Middle East Land Forces. He and his wife Mollie then sailed to Kenya. They docked in Mombasa on 4 September 1947 and made for Nairobi, but found that the theatres there had all been converted to cinemas during the war. They proposed to start a professional repertory company in Nairobi and began by doing a broadcast for Children’s Hour at the Cable and Wireless transmitter at a tiny studio at Kabete. They had to make all their sound effects. To make ends meet they began their drama school using space in front of the screen at the Capitol cinema. Their first play was The Dear Departed. The Theatre Royal had become the Cameo cinema but the Maules decided that this was a better venue for them, though they could only use it for matinees so that films could be shown in the evenings. They began to build their  theatre in 1949 –...



An Eccentric East African Hotelier

| Feb 22, 2016 |

An Eccentric East African Hotelier   If you crossed the Kenya border into Uganda in the 1940s you came across a rather dilapidated building with a faded tin roof, half a mile from the border, at Tororo. On a board, it announced itself as a bar: ‘Prop.: H.H. Aitken. Licensed to sell liquor to whom, how, and at what hour he pleases.’ You entered a dark room, with a bar displaying bottles of liquor behind it. Bottles of beer were in an icebox in the corner, and there was a price list. Customers were invited to leave money in a bowl on top of the bar. There was also an invitation to answer calls of nature behind the house.   If you desired to stay, you were presented with this price list: Tororo Hotel, Tororo, Uganda, Prop.: H.H. Aitken, P.O. Box 9, phone 8. Per day single room shillings 17.50  double room   32.00 Dinner, bed, bath, morning tea and breakfast. Visitors who do not bath, 2 shgs extra. (There were also prices for meals and board terms for four to six days and for a week.)   After this was proclaimed: Nuisances: Children: In proportion to food and accommodation, Noise and Nuisance to Visitors and/or the Proprietor. Livestock: Dogs and other fleasome beasts and Birds are not allowed in the hotel. Servants: Cannot as a rule be catered for. Corkage is charged on Visitors’ own Wines, Spirits and Beer Golf free to hotel visitors   This strange establishment was the brainchild of Herbert Henry Aitken, a man who was a legend on both sides of the border. Who...


Sneak Preview: Horse Racing in Kenya

by Shel Arensen | Feb 16, 2016 |

Old Africa has been working for over two years on a project covering over 100 years of horse racing in Kenya. We’ve just completed the rough edit of the full book and are moving into the stage for final editing and photo selection. I think we can use about 300 of the over 900 photos collected so far. Here’s a sneak preview of one race in Nanyuki that didn’t go as well as it should have. Gentleman Rider Rowland Minns wrote the piece, which will be included in the book. Rowland Minns riding Beaujolais in an Open Hurdle race in Limuru in 1969. This was NOT the horse mentioned in the story that follows.


Another incident at Nanyuki was on a horse owned by another farmer, which had been ‘warned off the course’  for being uncontrollable (the horse not the farmer). This meant the horse couldn’t ride in official races organized by the Jockey Club of Kenya, but no one seemed to care if the horses ran in the gymkhana events upcountry.  I asked the farmer what it was like and all he said was that ‘it could go a bit’ but tended to throw its head around. It appeared in the paddock led by no less than two syces, who appeared to have great difficulty in controlling it. When the word came to mount, I took a flying vault into the saddle as it was far from stationary at the time and then told both syces to let go of it thinking this might help. The race was right round the course and the...

Firebrand Editor of the Kenya Press: Harold George Robertson (‘Rab the Rhymer’)

by Christine Nicholls | Nov 22, 2015 |

Firebrand Editor of the Kenya Press: Harold George Robertson (‘Rab the Rhymer’)   From the age of ten in the 1950s I was an avid daily reader of the Mombasa Times and loved its crossword. So I was very interested to come across some details of one of its former Editors, Harold George Robertson, or ‘Rab the Rhymer’. He was a Scotsman, born on 3 January 1884, probably in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, the son of William and Martha Robertson. He went to Kenya on 9 August 1912, describing himself on the ship’s manifest as an artist. With him went his wife Mrs M. Robertson, eight years older than himself, and three sons – aged six, four and an infant. His elder brother James G. Robertson followed him three months later and as a contractor was responsible (with Gow and Davidson) for the building of the New Stanley Hotel in 1913. Harold Robertson thrust himself immediately into journalism in Nairobi, joining the staff of the East African Standard and the Leader. This did not satisfy him and he began the East African Tatler and Free Lance, published by the Leader. The Tatler, a satirical magazine without advertisements and containing articles, short stories, poems and cartoons, all of them composed mainly by Robertson, did not continue after the outbreak of World War 1 in August 1914. Harold joined the armed forces, serving in the East Africa Pioneer Company, East Africa Supply Corps and East African Ordnance Department, earning the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Yet his journalistic instincts remained with him during the war and he contributed poems to...

The Founding of Kitale

by Christine Nicholls | Nov 4, 2014 |

There is a map of the Trans Nzoia area in 1908, which showed numerous potential farms delineated by metal beacons stuck in the ground. A survey had been done to encourage white settlers to come to the area. Kitale appeared as a rectangle three miles by two, but in reality, there was nothing there – not even one building. The British Government sent out settlers after the First World War in 1919 and they found that what was supposed to be Kitale was just grassland and scattered trees, with not a single hut or person to be seen. One traveller noted: ‘It was impossible to foresee that this small area was destined to become the commercial centre of the 1000 square miles of fertile land. As I moved westwards two huge lions passed me, for this was lion country where game abounded. Kongoni, reedbuck, oribi, topi and waterbuck were plentiful, and leopard well in evidence in the forested areas, their victims wild pig and monkeys.’ In reality the Trans Nzoia district was not a popular area. It had a reputation as the home of malaria and blackwater fever and it was removed from civilisation, because the nearest railhead was at Londiani over 100 miles away and the nearest bank was at Eldoret 45 miles away. But gradually convoys of ox wagons carrying furniture and tools travelled from Londiani and the soldier-settlers sent from England after the First World War began to occupy and develop the farms. A District Commissioner, Mr Champion, was appointed but as there were no buildings in Kitale he took up residence in what became known...

Nairobi’s First Stripper

by Only in Africa | Sep 5, 2014 |

About the year 1948, Nairobi had one very popular nightclub called the 400 Club that, with new management, changed its name to The Travellers Club. The new manager sought the permission of the Michael O’Rourke, the then Commissioner of Police, to employ a professional strip-tease dancer on a short assignment. Michael had a preview of the act and gave his permission on condition that the Club staff should be excluded from the performance. (That was the way things were in those far-off days). The show was a great success with full houses almost every night. Eventually, for the final performance by this somewhat overweight lady who was certainly past her prime, she promised to put on a fan dance. There was standing room only for the customers. Sure enough, about midnight, all the staff were sent home and a small low platform about the size of a coffee table was brought onto the stage with a curtain all around it. The lights dimmed, seductive music was played, the curtains opened and the lady proceeded to dance with a pair of huge ostrich feather fans that hid her attractions from view. At the end of the dance, the lady was back on the platform and then simultaneously she threw the fans apart, the lights went out and the curtains closed. There was tremendous applause and yells of, “Encore, encore!” Then after a few minutes, the lights dimmed again, the seductive music started and the curtains opened. However, instead of the stripper, who should appear with the fans and dressed only in his jockey underpants was none other than the manager...

Mayence Bent and The New Stanley Hotel

by Christine Nicholls | Aug 22, 2013 |

Mayence Ellen Bent, the founder of the New Stanley Hotel (now the Stanley Ramada) in Nairobi, had a most interesting early life. She was born in the district of St Pancras, London, on 17 April 1868, the daughter of Walter Bentley Woodbury and Marie Olmeijer. Her own name and those of her sisters (Florence, Constance, Hermance, Valence, Fayence and Avence) alert us immediately to the fact that this was an unusual family. And indeed it was. Her father W.B. Woodbury was a famed photographer (just google him to see how famous he was) and her mother was the daughter of a Borneo trader, Charles William Olmeijer, of mixed Dutch-Malay descent. Joseph Conrad had visited his trading outpost at Tanjung Redeb on the Pantai river and this gave rise to his famous story Almayer’s Folly. When Woodbury was photographing in the Dutch East Indies, he saw a beautiful schoolgirl, Olmeijer’s daughter Marie. He determined to marry her and this he did in Batavia in 1863, taking her back to England with him. There the couple had one son and six daughters with the unusual names – Mayence is the French form of the town, Mainz. How did Mayence get to Nairobi? She lived in Penge and Croydon as a child and then she and her sister Constance went out to South Africa, where Constance opened a boarding house. They were joined by their stepbrother William Stanley Bent. What had happened was that the girls’ father, Walter Woodbury, had died in Margate in 1885, and five years later his wife Marie married Edward Stanley Bent, a struck-off solicitor who spent five years...

She abandoned her so-called ‘husband’, William Bent (actually her stepbrother) and took up with Frederick Francis Tate, fifteen years her junior (he was born in Wolverhampton on 30 June 1883). He arrived in East Africa in 1904 and worked for the Uganda Railway, becoming pier master at Kisumu. He then moved to Nairobi, where he was a part-time barman at the Grand Hotel and a piano-player at the Railway Institute, Nairobi (his family was musical – indeed his sister was the famous soprano Dame Maggie Teyte, who changed the spelling of her name). Fred was the son of Jacob James Tate, a wine and spirits merchant in Wolverhampton (and later hotel proprietor near Euston station, London), and his wife Maria Doughty. Fred was six years older than Maggie. His brothers Jacob and Sydney later joined him in East Africa. Fred and Mayence went to Zanzibar to get married, probably to avoid speculation about there being no divorce from William. The announcement in Nairobi’s newspaper The Leader on 20 November 1909 reads ‘The marriage of Miss Mayence Woodbury with Mr Fred Tate was celebrated on the 9th inst. at the Catholic Cathedral at Zanzibar.’ May’s partnership with D E Cooper was dissolved in 1909 (he moved to Sotik and became a JP there, dying in 1929), and Fred became the manager of the Stanley. The hotel had thirty bedrooms and an annexe, but Fred and May wanted to expand. After all, they had a Bechstein piano and a Thurston billiard table to...


On Growing Old in Kenya

by Dick Hedges | Jan 28, 2012 |

I have not yet found any area of the planet earth in which it would be pleasant to grow old. I do however count myself extremely fortunate to be growing old in Kenya for the following reasons. The indigenous populations of East Africa have a culture of respect for the aged. For most of the rest of the world, the opposite is the case. The Aged, both firm and infirm, cannot be dispensed with quickly enough as they become a social and economical embarrassment and burden to their younger generation. They must be hurriedly hidden away to await death in some dismal, expensive care (less!?) home. Such an unfortunate fate awaits an ever-increasing portion of the Caucasian populations. Over one million a year is the increase of retirees in the UK alone as the baby boomers turn into geriatric ‘doomers.’  Happily, this is not the case in Kenya. This Kenyan virtue and lack of it in other cultures was well illustrated when I found myself on 4th Avenue in New York a couple of years ago. I had best describe myself, as I obviously appeared to the cab driver in question. He saw an old and decrepit geriatric with white hair and long white beard shuffling along with a limp, a stoop and a walking stick. I had failed to obey a ‘Don’t cross’ pedestrian traffic light, causing a stream of loudly-shouted oaths bestowed on me by this New York cabby. Having endured in my time two years of vocal instruction from his and her UK majesty’s staff sergeants on the parade ground and from bosuns before the mast...



Nairobi: November 1968, My Fair Lady

                          Anyone remember Nat Kofsky, Tony and Peter Alvares, the classical concerts, the musicals, piano concertos ... oh those wonderful days!

Walter Fernandes: Out of Africa, unforgettable moments

 Pictured with Walter are Godfrey Rodrigues (brother of hockey Olympian Danny Rodrigues) Rosario Rosa (photographer) , Peter Couthinho , and Hilary Carasco .


Making music



I WAS born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1941. My first love in music was the drums but fate took another hand as I will explain. When I was around 6 years of age, I was struck by then the relatively unknown disease, polio. I was paralyzed in the leg whilst my sister Thelma was affected in the left hand.  I was surprised one day when my dad surprised me with a drum set.  Being still unable to use one leg, dad would rent the set to a Goan band for 50 shillings. Unfortunately, after a few rentals, one drum came back home with a large hole. That did it, he promptly sold it. I was very, very fortunate to recover from polio.

I attended Dr Ribeiro Goan School. One Saturday my dad returned from an auction with a violin that he purchased for 12 shillings and 50 cents.    My musical career kicked off the next Monday when dad arranged for me to be tutored by A.R. Da Costa who was the choirmaster at St. Francis Church. 

Sometime in 1957, Dr Ribeiro Goan School  Ex-Students awarded me a bursary together with the  Diana D`Souza, Rudolf Gonsalves and Leandro Saldana to study music at the East African Conservatoire of Music where I initially was coached by Nat Kofsky and then Anthony Alvares, a brilliant violinist.

Following that, I won at the Kenya Festival of Music the best violinist under the age of 16 and was very proud to be presented with the trophy by the Governor-General Sir Evelyn Baring.

Dad would make me practice 5 hours a day come whatever, so by the age of 18  was pretty good. Having completed school in 1957, I played as a second violist with The Nairobi Orchestra and in the orchestra at various musical plays brought up by City Players.

I had the pleasure to get to know prominent Goan Musicians well known to the Nairobi musical circles. They were Anthony  Alvares, Anthony Noronha (better known as Oboe ), Albert Rodrigues (Viola), Luis Pires (Violinist) Guilherme Pires (Bass).

On July 20th 1966, a farewell recital was organized for Anthony (Oboe) Noronha at the residence of J. M. Nazareth Q.C. Oboe had sacrificed so much of his time promoting music within the Goan community.  For years, he conducted the junior orchestra.  At this farewell recital, nearly every known Goan musician took part.  Oboe soon left for the UK where he, unfortunately, passed away.

In 1984,  I was running my own video business. On this particular day a woman, unknown to me, walked into my office, asked me if I was Walter, then asked me if I would like to take part in a movie that was going to be shot in Nairobi. I said yes, after which she asked me if I could arrange for a Goan drummer and pianist. I arranged for Clifford D`Souza who is an excellent pianist and Ronny Coutinho, drummer.  It turned out to be  Out of Africa with Merle Streep and Robert Redford. This movie won 9 academy awards. (The film clip will be on my FB page, Blogger down seem to allow it, Cyprian).

Isabella Wise nee de Souza: Sadly, Albert Rodrigues, the violinist mentioned passed away in Goa on March 29 2020. RIP>

Unknown: Isabella, Albert was a great violinist. Very often Albert with Anthony Alvares, Pires (second violin), Albert (viola)... I forget the fourth, would play quartets. Sorry to hear of Albert's passing. Cyprian Fernandes: This was the golden age of classical Goan music in Kenya.

Unknown: Going through my files I found  a copy of "A FAREWELL CONVERT TO OBOE". The concert took place at the home of JM Nazerath QC on July 20 1968 and included sopranos Helen de Souza and Euphemia Fernandes. Brought tears to my eyes. Oboe taught me chess.



The Pinto Family

The Pinto Family

Our story begins with one couple and an impulsive idea.
Felix Pinto was one of Kenya’s most highly-regarded farmers. His wife Jane was an elite international table tennis player. They lived on a rambling farm off Bogoni Road, in the Nairobi suburb of Karen, where they raised their three kids.
In 1966 these second-generation Kenyans decided to start a little safari company. Micato, now a big company, (in which Jane and Felix are very active), remains a family affair, committed to making its Micato affiliate employees on three continents, and its guests from all over the world, feel like family.


The Pintos of Micato

Felix Pinto and Jane Pinto, Micato Africa’s founders, live just outside Nairobi in beautiful Lavington House, where they entertain all Micato visitors in the capital city; they also enjoy sojourns to their Cape Town residence and safaris with their children and grandchildren.
Felix is one of Kenya’s most respected businessmen. The family’s Ideal Farm, close by Nairobi National Park, was for many years a model East African agro-industrial enterprise (and the home of a cadre of prize-winning livestock—including a massively beautiful champion pig who occupies regal stature in family lore; when you dine with Felix and Jane in Nairobi, ask them to tell you the story of the Empress of Ideal Farm).
Jane is a former Kenyan table tennis champion (ask her about having her picture taken with China’s premier Zhou Enlai during the famous Ping Pong Diplomacy tournament in 1971). She sits on the board of the International Table Tennis Federation, represents Kenya at the Olympics and at international championships, and is an accomplished businesswoman. But Jane’s greatest passion is helping her country’s children in need; her work with Mother Teresa is reflected in Micato-AmericaShare’s programs.
Executive Director Anastasia Pinto heads up Micato’s multi-continental sales efforts from her base in Los Angeles. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, she began her sales career with Hyatt Hotels in the South Pacific. Anna is deeply involved with the Pediatric Therapy Network and Sandpipers, an influential Southern California women’s philanthropy, and she is a major force behind Micato-AmericaShare, just one example of her embrace of Africa’s and the Pinto family’s tradition of supporting those in need.
After graduating from St. Mary’s School in Nairobi, Dennis Pinto, Micato’s Managing Director, headed west to Stanford and then all over the world as a vice president for American Express International Banking. Thirty years ago Dennis took a six-month sabbatical to set up a New York City office for Micato, and he’s still happily ensconced in the Big Apple. Skillfully honing the Micato Safaris philosophy of luxury, exploration, cultural interaction, and responsibility, he also co-founded Micato-AmericaShare.
Joy Phelan-Pinto, our Executive Director and Dennis’ bride of 20+ years, an alumna of Taft School and Brown University, oversees Micato’s brand and editorial strategy and is the impresaria of this website and our hard copy publications. Joy’s love of travel and the travel business led her to executive positions with Travel Dynamics and the Cunard Line. She managed such legendary vessels as Sea Goddess, Sea Cloud, and Royal Viking Sun, and at last count has travelled to 120 countries and territories. She has summited Kilimanjaro, regularly explores Africa and India, Micato’s ancestral homeland, with the family, and she and Dennis keep their New York home fires burning for their Ivy Leaguers, Sasha at Brown and Tristan at Yale.
Alan Lobo, our Chief Operating Officer, is a graduate of Southern California’s Loyola Marymount University and is a mainstay of New York City’s much-vaunted Village Lions Rugby Football Club. Alan grew up with Micato: his mother, Dulu, is Jane Pinto’s cherished sister and Micato’s Head Concierge Emerita in Nairobi.


Edna Monteiro

16 June 1939 to 6 May 2020


EDNA was born in the Kenyan town of Kisumu in 1939 on the shores of Lake Victoria, where her father had been posted by the British civil service. After several secondments in regional towns around Kenya, the young family of four children finally arrived in the capital, Nairobi, in 1953 where Edna attended Dr Ribeiro Goan School.

Edna was very social and, like her brothers and later her younger sister, had a natural ability to excel at sports. In her final year, Edna was rewarded by the school, receiving the Victor Ludorum prize for her all-round sports ability. After leaving school Edna attended secretarial college and began her working life. Together with her life-long best friend, Sr. Trifa De Sousa, she focused her sporting capability mainly on athletics and hockey, working and training during the week and travelling to championships and tournaments on the weekends.

Her hockey team, the Collegians, was very well-organised and became the best women’s hockey team in East Africa. The team members had a special bond and the players remain very close to this day.

After marrying Renato Monteiro in 1963, Edna worked in administration for Sassini Coffee Estates. She strived to balance the demands of career, family and an active social life. Edna played hockey for the Goan Institute where she captained the team and mentored many of the younger players. She also got a lot of satisfaction from being on the Ladies Committee which did so much to organise community events. She enjoyed cooking with the other ladies. They called these sessions “Board Meetings” because they would bring their cutting boards and talk about the week’s activities. Edna developed a passion for cooking and won several cooking and recipe competitions in Nairobi.

In 1983, Edna and Renato made the difficult decision to emigrate to Australia to join the rest of her family who were settled in Canberra and Melbourne. This was in the hope that they would provide a better education for their sons, Malcolm and Julian. Leaving her idyllic lifestyle in Nairobi to start life afresh in Canberra presented many challenges which Edna embraced. She had a passion for life which allowed her to develop new skills, loyal friendships and to be closer to her mum, Mary. After a long career, she retired from the Public Service in the late 1990s. Edna subsequently spent a lot of time doing community work with her local Church and charity organisations. She loved gardening and joined the ‘Friends of the Botanical Gardens’ where she volunteered for decades. She was known for her practicality and ability to just get on and do whatever was required. This trait is fondly remembered by her immediate family whenever they called on her.

Edna loved travelling to see her siblings and their families in Melbourne. Her children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren treasured her visits to Sydney, especially when she came bearing gifts of food and large piles of chapattis, which were rapidly devoured.

Over many years Edna developed a close-knit group of friends in Canberra who were unfailing in their support of each other. These friendships gave her great strength and much pleasure; they shared a fondness for conversation over many dinners, afternoon teas, and the occasional holiday.

Edna will be remembered for her true colours. She was a strong woman with a big smile, a genuine personality, and an ability to maintain loyal friendships across many decades and generations.

Edna was the matriarch who guided her family to a new country and taught us always to look forward and not be afraid of what lies beyond.

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Two of the most hated and feared men in Kenya

 I have not been able establish the author of the material published below. However, factually it is correct and could be the product of similar stories published all over the place.

Joginder Singh Sokhi, a Kenyan Asian, and Patrick David Shaw, a Kenyan White, were two of Kenya's most dreaded non-Black security officers of the 1970s and 1980s. Joginder Singh Sokhi was a Kenya Police Officer who rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, while Patrick David Shaw was not a formal Kenya Police Officer, but a Kenya Police Reservist.

Joginder Singh Sokhi in particular, was dreaded amongst Kenya's Asians in those times. In the Nairobi of those times, it was common to find groups of Asians on different corners of Nairobi's streets chatting, and certain times a group of Asians chatting would suddenly disperse and flee in fear in different directions i.e. "every man for himself," as if they had just seen a herd of elephants approaching. What it was is that they had seen Joginder Singh Sokhi approaching. Many Kenyans speak of the Daniel T. arap Moi years in Kenya and how they were "a reign of terror." Well the Jomo Kenyatta years in Kenya were probably a worse "reign of terror" than the Daniel T. arap Moi years.

And then in both the Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel T. arap Moi years in Kenya, there were quite a number of scams like coffee smuggling and smuggling of precious stones, and quite a number of Asians, Blacks and Whites were involved.

Joginder Singh Sokhi would target the Asians suspected of involvement in these scams, and what Joginder Singh Sokhi would sometimes do is dress up like a civilian, like a "street hustler," and then visit the Nairobi cinema halls of those times i.e. long before the advent of Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs), Digital Video Discs (DVDs), the internet, YouTube and Netflix. There were quite a number of cinema halls in Nairobi in those days i.e. what were regarded the downtown cinema halls like Odeon Cinema Hall, Embassy Cinema Hall, ABC Cinema Hall, Cameo Cinema Hall, and Shah Cinema Hall, and what were regarded the uptown cinema halls like 20th Century Cinema Hall, Liberty Cinema Hall, Nairobi Cinema Hall, Metropole Cinema Hall and Kenya Cinema Hall.

Many Kenyan Asians preferred the downtown cinema halls and what Joginder Sokhi Singh would sometimes do, dressed like a "street hustler," is track some of his "suspects" to the downtown cinema halls. It could be real drama e.g. in the middle of a movie, there would be a sudden commotion, and when the lights came on, you would note Joginder Singh Sokhi leaving the cinema hall as he tightly gripped the hands of one or two Asians.

That was Joginder Singh Sokhi for you. Joginder Singh Sokhi loved Joginder Singh Sokhi, and given a second chance, Joginder Singh Sokhi would still have chosen to be Joginder Singh Sokhi. He loved the image he had cut for himself in the Kenya of those times.

Enter Patrick David Shaw, still the most dreaded Kenya Police Reservist in Kenyan History so far. Patrick David Shaw was like Joginder Singh Sokhi in the sense that Patrick David Shaw loved Patrick David Shaw, and given a second chance, Patrick David Shaw would still have chosen to be Patrick David Shaw.

Kenya's Asians dreaded Joginder Singh Sokhi, Kenya's Blacks, including this writer, dreaded Patrick David Shaw.

Shaw had three trademark vehicles in those times i.e. a White Volvo model of the 1970s, exactly the same model but blue in colour, and a White 1980s model Mercedes. Many Kenyans of those times were familiar with Shaw's motor vehicles i.e. they stood out, and where they were spotted, that area was studiously avoided, lest Shaw was on the trail of "suspects," and lest there was suddenly an exchange of gunfire, and you found yourself caught in the middle of that gunfire.
Shaw hardly slept i.e. he was like a 24 hour guy e.g. his vehicle, at least one of the three of those times, could be spotted at a downtown Nairobi location at 3.00 a.m. in the morning, three hours later i.e. 6.00 a.m., it could be spotted somewhere much further off like Ngong, in Northern Nairobi, and then about two hours later i.e. 8.00 a.m. it could be spotted at the very opposite end of Ngong e.g. Embakasi. Shaw was an "omnipresent" kind of guy.

Both Joginder Singh Sokhi and Patrick David Shaw were implicated in the murder in 1975 of flamboyant Kenyan politician Josiah Mwangi Kariuki i.e. J.M. Kariuki.

J.M. Kariuki was last seen alive leaving Nairobi's Hilton Hotel in the company of then General Service Unit (GSU) Commandant Ben Gethi, on Sunday evening, 2nd March 1975. Very soon before this, both Joginder Singh Sokhi and Patrick David Shaw were seen outside Hilton Hotel. J.M. Kariuki's abduction and murder were like a military operation e.g. soon before J.M. Kariuki left Hilton Hotel in the company of Ben Gethi, Kenya Police Officers under the supervision of Patrick David Shaw, cleared the streets surrounding Hilton Hotel of all Human traffic.

J.M. Kariuki was first taken to then Headquarters of the Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI) i.e. the then "Special Branch" Headquarters i.e. Kingsway House, off University Way, Nairobi, where he was "interrogated," before being taken to the foot of the Ngong Hills where he was shot dead.

Both Joginder Singh Sokhi and Patrick David Shaw were present at Kingsway House when J.M. Kariuki was being "interrogated." Ben Gethi was also present. Also present was Inspector Arthur Wanyoike Thungu of President Jomo Kenyatta's Presidential Security Detail.
Inspector Arthur Wanyoike Thungu had a passionate dislike for J.M. Kariuki and at a certain point during the "interrogation" of J.M. Kariuki, Inspector Thungu asked J.M. Kariuki why he i.e. J.M. Kariuki, was undermining the Government of President Jomo Kenyatta, and J.M. Kariuki responded rudely i.e. something on the lines of "Go F yourself." Inspector Thungu punched J.M. Kariuki so hard in the face, immediately knocking out two of J.M. Kariuki's teeth. J.M. Kariuki's autopsy report indeed indicated that two of his teeth were missing.

Patrick David Shaw died in mysterious circumstances in February 1988. It is said that Patrick David Shaw was executed because he had refused to go and "shot dead" then Kenyan Vice President Mwai Kibaki, which passes as unbelievable i.e. Mwai Kibaki yes, was dropped as Kenyan Vice President the following month i.e. March 1988 i.e. after the Kenyan General Elections of March 1988, but Mwai Kibaki is still alive and kicking 32 years after February and March 1988, and 7 years after he exited the Kenyan Presidency.

Joginder Singh Sokhi passed away in 2018.